US Economy in Worst Fall Since ’82 – Output Sank 6.2% Last Quarter; Plunging Trade, Investment Signal Trouble Ahead (More here)
Citigroup: World’s Worst Investment to Get Even Worse (Ritholtz)
Losers double down. The classic trading rule which the US government is about to violate in an enormous way is that one should never, ever, ever, under any circumstance, add to a losing position.
Chile’s industrial production fell the most since 1999 in January. (Bloomberg)
Argentina Has a Bond It Wants to Sell You – Deadbeat nations should be kept out of U.S. capital markets. (Link here)
El Salvador and the Chávez Model – With the presidential election approaching, chavismo weighs heavily on voters’ minds. When Salvadorans vote on March 15 to elect a new president, that concern may play a key role in influencing the vote. (WSJ)
Alleged CIA Activity in Bolivia and Ecuador (Bellum)
Mexico Is in Free Fall – Its state institutions are under threat as they have not been since at least the Cristero uprising of the late 1920s and possibly since the Mexican revolution of 1910. While the Obama administration is obviously aware of what is happening south of the Rio Grande, the threat simply does not command the attention that its gravity requires. More here.
The war we gave Mexico – The drugs, guns and culture that fuel the violence all are linked to the U.S. (LA Times)
Rosalino “Chalino” Sanchez – Father of the narco-corrido (YouTube)
U.S. federal government to yield marijuana jurisdiction to states (SFgate)
“Smoke Some Weed” (YouTube)
The West Africa Connection: how drug cartels found new routes (Times)
Five years ago the amount of cocaine shipped to Europe via West Africa was negligible. Today 50 tonnes a year worth £1.4 billion pass through the region. Interpol estimates as much as two thirds of the cocaine sold in Europe this year will reach the Continent via West Africa.
The New Che, Same as the Old – Steven Soderbergh’s biopic continues Hollywood’s worship of a brutal man. More here.
Financial crisis sparks unrest in Europe (Reuters)
Thousands of UK police to lose jobs as forces feel the pinch – One of Britain’s most experienced chief constables said that forces were being dangerously weakened at a time when a strong police force could be essential to “hold the line.” (Times)
Slums of Hope – For displaced peasants, the world’s vast urban ghettos are a gateway to a better future. As Planet of Slums author Mike Davis writes, residents of the new slums constitute the “fastest-growing and most unprecedented social class on earth.” (City Journal)
Russia’s economic troubles put Putin firmly in the firing line – Unrest has been crushed, but the real challenge could come from falling oil prices (Telegraph)
Iraq ‘now its own responsibility’ – The ‘drawdown’ (i.e. withdrawal) of US troops by 31 August 2010 “should send a clear signal that Iraq’s future is now its own responsibility,” says President Obama. (Politico)
Getting Beat in the War of Ideas – A new study of public opinion in Muslim countries was released this week by WorldPublicOpinion.org (Comops)
Three provocative essays on Iran by Spengler
Sex, drugs and Islam (Asia Times)
Excerpt: “How should we explain an eruption of social pathologies in Iran such as drug addiction and prostitution, on a scale much worse than anything observed in the West? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it appears that Islamic theocracy promotes rather than represses social decay. Iran is dying. It seems that a spiritual decay has overcome Iran, despite best efforts of a totalitarian theocracy. Popular morale has deteriorated much faster than in the “decadent” West against which the Khomeini revolution was directed. Two indicators of Iranian morale are worth citing. First, prostitution has become a career of choice among educated Iranian women. Second, according to a recent report from the US Council on Foreign Relations, 5% of Iran’s adult, non-elderly population of 35 million is addicted to opiates. That is an astonishing number, unseen since the peak of Chinese addiction during the 19th century.”
Why Iran is dying for a fight (Asia Times)
Excerpt: “Iran’s demographic catastrophe in the making impels Tehran to stake its claim for regional empire quickly, while it still has the manpower to do so. Before Iran is buried, it will have occasion to command the undivided attention of the West. The rulers of the Persian pocket-empire know better than Jenkins that today’s soldiers will become pensioners a generation hence, turning a belligerent and ambitious country into an impoverished, geriatric ruin. They believe that Iran has a last opportunity for greatness, on which they will stake their last dinar.”
Jihadis and whores (Asia Times)
Excerpt: “Wars are won by destroying the enemy’s will to fight. A nation is never really beaten until it sells its women. To understand Iranian politics, cherchez les femmes: the fate of Iranian women sheds light on the eccentricity of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. By Spengler’s Universal Law of Gender Parity, the men and women of every place and every time deserve each other. A corollary to this universal law states that the battered Iranian whore is the alter ego of the swaggering Iranian jihadi.”
The “Worst Food Product Ever” – Hormel’s Canned Pig Brains in Milk Gravy (Consumerist)